How Do Kids Get Guns?: A Talk with the N.R.A.
In an interview with the Family Education Network, Jim Manown, spokesman for the National Rifle Association (www.NRA.org), spoke about classroom shootings.
Q: Why are students in the U.S. gaining access to dangerous weapons?
A: It shouldn't be happening and there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. Such as, what would motivate a youngster to do such a thing in the first place? The NRA is a training organization with 40,000 certified safety instructors. Every course we teach says firearms should be safely stored. We believe the key to preventing unauthorized access is education and training. The proof that the strategy has been successful is the steady decline in the number of gun-related fatal accidents since the 1930s.
Q: If the strategy is successful, why are 30 to 40 percent of the guns in American homes kept loaded and unlocked?
A: I don't know. The NRA doesn't ask its members how they store their guns in their homes, and the way a gun owner chooses to store a gun will vary from one individual to the next. The National Center for Health Statistics says fatal accidents are at an all-time low, so that suggests Americans are by and large storing firearms safely.
Q: Then how are kids getting their hands on guns and bringing them to school?
A: It's a complex problem. It goes well beyond the issue of guns. These young people who committed these acts at various schools got the guns from a variety of sources. There's no pattern.
What Parents Can Do
Q: What can parents do, if they're concerned about school safety?
A: What both sides in the gun control debate can agree on is that school is still one of the safest places for students, by and large, despite these high profile incidents that have been so heavily focused on by the media. One thing parents can do, if they are gun owners, is take a firearms safety course.
Q: What about the argument that guns should be regulated like cars? You need a license to drive a car in every state, but you do not need a license to carry a gun in every state.
A: Firearms are already heavily regulated. There are tens of thousands of laws on the books regulating the use of guns. The NRA believes that if you live on a farm, you should be able to operate or use a gun on your own property without a license.
Q: And to those who say the reason we don't have stronger regulation of guns in this country is because the NRA has bought Congress, you would say...
A: (Laughs) I would say the NRA is the nation's leader in calling for strict enforcement of the tens of thousands of firearm laws we already have on the books.